Wounded Iraq Vet Democratic Nominee for Hyde Seat

WaPo reports that,

Tammy Duckworth, the decorated Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in a grenade attack, won a close race Wednesday in her bid for the Democratic primary nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R) in Illinois’s 6th Congressional District. Duckworth, the most prominent and best-financed of nearly a dozen veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars attempting to launch careers in Congress, was vying with Democratic rival Christine Cegelis, a computer consultant who has been running nonstop since she lost to Hyde two years ago. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press declared the Thailand-born Duckworth the narrow winner with 44 percent, or 14,019 votes, to Cegelis’ 40 percent.

In the Republican primary, Peter Roskam, a well-financed conservative state lawmaker, ran unopposed to succeed Hyde, the House Judiciary Committee chairman during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Hyde is retiring after 16 terms in office.


Duckworth, 38, a retired Army major who was wounded on Nov. 12, 2004, while piloting a helicopter in Iraq, formally announced her candidacy in December. Since then, she has enjoyed the high-profile backing and money-raising power of such Democratic Party luminaries as Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Barack Obama (Ill.).

I haven’t seen the polling for Hyde’s seat but would think a Democrat, even one who lost her legs in combat, will be a hard sell in that district. Still, a compelling story.

Update (3/23): This development has the netroots in an uproar. It has Chris Bowers “worried about 2006” and Shakespeare’s Sister is literally cussing the results. It seems that the big, bad national Democratic Party poured used their muscle to get Duckworth, a novice candidate not even from the district, elected over a proven, popular candidate with strong local support.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ken says:

    I don’t think that the district is as unpatriotic as you assume it to be James.

    Duckworth is a more worthy representative of the people of that district than is her republic opponent.

  2. liberty says:

    While Duckworth’s story is compelling… I think the fact that she doesn’t even live in the district will be a problem.

    She chose not to run in her district because that is held by a Dem.

    She isn’t even planning on moving into the district she is running for because her community rallied and basically built her a home to suit her needs since her accident.

  3. James Joyner says:

    I don’t know much about either candidate beyond what’s in the report. But it’s a pretty conservative district drawn to be very safe for the GOP.

    It doesn’t sound like she’s a moonbat on the war, which should work to her advantage. Certainly, the fact that she lost her legs in combat will earn her a listen, which Cegelis might not have gotten. I am somewhat surprised that the primary was so close, however.

  4. Jonk says:

    Heroes like Major Duckworth are what make this country great. More power to her, whatever her politics…


  5. Maggie says:

    Sad story of an American hero…but we are taught to treat them as if they were “whole” not as lesser beings.

    I do believe an incumbent Dem who was likewise wounded “got the boot” in Georgia. Or does my memory fail me?

  6. McGehee says:

    I do believe an incumbent Dem who was likewise wounded �got the boot� in Georgia.

    After six years in the Senate, triple-amputee Vietnam vet Max Cleland was treated by voters as if he were whole — we judged him by his voting record in the six years just past, not by his sacrifice decades earlier.

    As it should be, when it comes to high political office.

  7. LJD says:

    Since then, she has enjoyed the high-profile backing and money-raising power of such Democratic Party luminaries as Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), John F. Kerry (Mass.)

    With friends like that, who needs enemies?

  8. Brainster says:

    Bowers’ comments are a poke at Rahm Emanuel. “Look, we left it to the pros and they almost lost, ergo we can’t leave it to the pros anymore.”

    I’m not sure the seat is as safe Republican as you think. The local opponent ran against Hyde in 2004 and drew almost 45%. With no incumbent this time around, Sabato rates this as one of the 30 most competitive races.